How Can You Spot A Narcissist?

images-6They are like human magnets, drawing in those around them. They can be downright captivating, but within them lies ulterior motives. Narcissists thrive on being admired by those that surround them, and find it difficult to be told that they are not beautiful or brilliant. Like the Greek mythological figure Narcissus, they are cursed because they love no one but themselves. They are destined to waste away, alone with their vanity and need for acknowledgement. The truth of the matter is that we all have a narcissistic streak, as it is a trait that varies in degree from person to person. There are some aspects of narcissism that are healthy and adaptive, like confidence and self-sufficiency. But when taken to the extreme, they become classified as narcissistic personality disorder. So what are the characteristics of a true narcissist?

High levels of self-esteem, grandiosity, self-focus, and self-importance are common amongst narcissists. Narcissists think that they are more attractive and intelligent that everyone else and have no problem telling those around them. They carry themselves with the utmost confidence, ensuring that those around them take notice. At first narcissists may just seem arrogant and full of themselves, but there are clear Unknown-1differences between a narcissist and someone who is self-centered. Narcissists are vain to an extreme degree, feel entitled, and use different manipulation techniques to ensure that everyone around them admires them.

Big, anonymous cities are where narcissists will thrive, often finding careers in entertainment-related fields. Narcissists are quick to accept positions where they will be leaders, allowing them to dominate and impress others without the negative impact of a bad reputation (which is often achieved through their promiscuity and socially unacceptable behaviour). This need to lead is not necessarily to manipulate others, but to receive more recognition and positive reinforcement from others.

This allows for a narcissist to be comfortable maintaining distant ties with those they surround themselves with. The way that narcissists interact with others is especially interesting. While they engage in less desirable communication techniques (yelling, cursing, arguing, etc.), they still engage those around them. This is all to maintain power in an interaction. They tend to not reciprocate conversation very well, “glazing over” while others are speaking. Narcissists are not interested when the attention is not on them.

images-2Another important characteristic to consider about narcissists is their sexual habits. Men and women who score high on narcissism tests express more interest in short-term physical relationships, rather than long-term relationships. In order to engage those they desire, women will often times dress more provocatively, while men will engage more in bragging and using their wit. Promiscuity is the direct result of their search for the best deal for themselves. They use this as another way to control their environment, and even when in a committed relationship they are much more likely to be unfaithful. Unknown-2

Narcissists have a very Jekyll and Hyde personality. When the charm and dazzle wears off, and those around them start to become disenchanted, narcissists transform. They become angry, hostile, and will punish anyone who does not support their grandiose vision of themselves. Rejection is not something a narcissist will ever come to accept until they can come to terms with their warped sense of self.

Narcissism is a complicated and serious disorder. While we are all a little bit narcissistic, the degree to which it comes out depends greatly on our underlying beliefs about ourselves. Narcissism is handy in reminding us how important we are, helping to build confidence and self-esteem. But it can be a very lonely disorder. Despite having all the followers they could possibly want, narcissist are left standing alone, the only ones truly able to fill up the hole they are constantly trying to fill with admiration. Hope, faith, love, and understanding can guide a narcissist away from the fate of Narcissus, the namesake of the disorder. With a little support and a lot of hard work/reflection, narcissism is something that can be conquered.

Sub-Personalities

Sometimes it may feel like a different person takes over us when we are in need of protection. Sub-personalities, not to be confused with multiple personality disorder, are this “other person” that works to keep us safe and secure. We use these sub-personalities to have a variety of needs met. So what is a sub-personality and which one do you use?

Sub-personalities are fragments of a whole. They are the parts of us that we use to meet our needs, as well as protect ourselves. We use these personalities to adapt to different situations, to tailor our reactions in order to get the desired response from others. These personalities come in several combinations and take different forms in each person.  Each of us has between four and eight sub-personalities, which I have listed below:

1) Abuser/Bully multiple_personality_disorder_by_blacksheepart-d60w6xu
2) Addict
3) Approval Seeker
4) Caretaker
5) Chronic Crier
6) Comedian
7) Controller
8) Inner Critic
9) Fixer/ rescuer
10) Judge
11) Lost Child
12) Martyr
13) Over Achiever
14) People Pleaser
15) Perfectionist
16) Pillar of strength
17) Rebel
18) Spiritualist
19) Teacher
20) Victim 

In my office I often see this combination amongst other combinations that I will write about in future blogs.  These three often pair together and have much in common; “The Inner Critic”, the “Judge”, and the “Perfectionist”. Each of these sub personalities and those above will transform to meet the needs of the situation and those that we are interacting with. Knowing these sub-personalities and how they affect your reactions is important so that you can see when they are doing more harm than good.

299779_237911279591395_412890649_nThe inner critic is that little voice that attempts to keep us safe, that little flashing warning sign that goes off when something doesn’t feel quite right. It is a collection of the judgments and criticisms that we have received our entire lives (both positive and negative) that is meant to keep us on track. This little voice can often manifest itself in a negative way, especially when coupled with the judge. This sub-personality is like a built in security system, meant to keep us in check with reality. In order for this sub-personality to do more good than harm we need to learn to communicate with it. By making choices independent of the criticisms, assessing the validity of those criticisms, and changing the negative into positive, we can use the inner critic to take a more whole look at situations.

The judge often comes paired with the inner critic. This sub-personality projects poor self-image in order to defend and protect. It is based in shame from previous criticisms and has a strong hold within our fear of rejection. It will attempt to control the situation 557233_379170868798768_1066134704_nby pointing to others’ flaws and shortcomings instead of allowing us to come to terms with our own. The judge is often decisive and observant, but is also intolerant and far too judgmental of others and ourselves. In order to combat the judge in us we need to learn to face our fear of rejection, accepting that we will not always be accepted. We also need to do inner work on self-image and the basis of the shame in our lives. By stopping the negative behaviour and addressing the inner messages we are receiving, we can learn to see the bigger picture and be more accepting of ourselves and of others.

The perfectionist is another shame-based sub personality. This shame is based in past failures. The perfectionist causes us to be more expectant of others than ourselves, in the fear that we may fail them before they will fail us. The perfectionist will attempt to control the situation by making us perfect, or what they deem to be perfect. But despite all of this talk about perfection, the perfectionist is very aware of the shortcomings and causes a lack of confidence. While the perfectionist is often times responsible and will give everything their best, they will often times be very rigid and cause conflict when it is not necessary. In order to come to terms with the perfectionist we must accept the fact that we are only human. Mistakes will happen, but that is okay. Vulnerability and fears should not rule our lives, and neither should shame. By setting appropriate and achievable goals, and learning to treat ourselves with the love and respect that we deserve, there is hope to have a more positive perfectionist.

Sub-personalities may only be fragments of the whole, but they are essential to who we are. Keeping them in check is a very important part of maintaining healthy relationships and boundaries. Letting these sub-personalities go unchecked is going to cause unnecessary turmoil and stress. With inner work, we can develop a better understanding of our sub-personalities, and use them in positive ways in our day-to-day lives.

Conquering Fears in Relationships

shutterstock_105933593  Fear. It can take over your thoughts, and in turn you can build up so many walls and blocks that you end up feeling alone and misunderstood. So many of us long for a meaningful relationship to another person, but it is fear that gets in the way. Fear of rejection, fear of judgement, fear of abandonment and fear of trust are just a few of the many fears that we must overcome in order to gain a meaningful relationship.

Fear of rejection is all about self-confidence and self esteem. It stops us from chasing after our dreams because we do not want to be turned down or fall. Every no we receive brings us closer to the door with the possibility of a yes, that is why it is so important to work through your fear of rejection and learn to cope rather than avoid.

shutterstock_123809797Fear of judgement stems from not having fully accepted ourselves. We are our own harshest critics. Full self-love and acceptance can change that, although we can never be 100% of anything 100% of the time. It does not mean that everyone thinks the way you do about yourself. People’s judgements on others have very little to do with the person being judged. It has much more to do with the person doing the judging. Their own insecurities come out against others. People will judge no matter what situation you are in, but it should matter not what they think, but what you think about yourself.

A fear of abandonment is within all of us, but the severity is based solely on our personal experiences in the past. With some it is much closer to the surface. A fear of abandonment can manifest in several different ways, the most apparent of which is the need to be clingy and demanding. Another way people cope with the fear of abandonment is rejecting their partner before they themselves are rejected, running away from relationships before they have reached their full potential. And finally, there are those who will change their whole entire person to become the “perfect” partner for the person that they are interested in. These coping skills are poor and maladaptive, which can cause train-wreck relationships to become normal. This is where being able to develop trust in your partner is so important.shutterstock_107413730

The fear of trust is a big deal in relationships, romantic or otherwise. It is a pretty common occurrence. We have all been hurt by someone we trusted, someone who decided that what they wanted was more important than our trust. But we have to keep in mind that we cannot punish everyone else for that person’s mistakes, especially when seeking out new relationships. It is perfectly normal to have a period of trust building and cautiousness in the beginning of a relationship. However, at some point we have to decide whether or not we can trust the other person. Trust is the foundation of every good relationship, and without it, you don’t really have a relationship at all.

But how do we overcome these fears? Well, it is a daily struggle. It takes a lot of reflection and deep inner work to break through these defenses. We have not only the outside opinions to combat with, but the internal ones as well. Our brain is pretty good at talking us out of things, but sometimes we just have to ignore it and take a leap of faith. Relationships, especially romantic ones, carry a lot of risk which is reasonable to be unsure of. But if we are unwilling to accept that risk, we may just lose out on having someone wonderful in our lives.

Expectations in Therapy

shutterstock_114450547  The reasons why people seek help in therapy varies widely, but the expectations are the same; change and insight. So why does it sometimes feel like there is little to no change? Why do we feel worse, and not always better? Why do we feel like we are still stuck in the same place as when we started therapy? These are all frequently asked questions for those in therapy. This comes from a misunderstanding of the role of the therapist in therapy, as well as a misunderstanding of the client’s role in the relationship. Let’s take a look at the therapeutic relationship, and the roles of both the counsellor and client to better understand it.

The therapeutic relationship seems simple at first glance. It is a relationship that involves a deep trust and understanding, however these are two things that are very hard to develop with a stranger. Feeling unsure of how much to reveal about yourself is completely normal early on in the therapeutic relationship, but going forward it is important that the trust level is increased. Not being able to open up to your therapist slows down or brings the process to a hault. A lack of trust will lead to a lack of open communication, and expecting to get help without taking a look at yourself is completely impossible. It is fair to expect your therapist to facilitate a space in which you feel safe and secure, but it is your responsibility to open up.

Therapists are equipped with tools and strategies to help you work through just about shutterstock_117868852anything, but not every therapist is equipped to handle everything. Depending on their style of therapy and training, one may be well-suited for your needs and another may not be. This is why it is important to be clear about what you are hoping to get out of therapy. This will let your therapist know if they will be able to meet your expectations, or if they will need to refer you to another clinician. Do not take a referral as a sign of a therapist giving up on you. Take it for what it is, their attempt to put the help that you require within your reach.

One assumption about your therapist that may not be a conscious one, is that they are going to be able to solve all of your problems. This could not be any further from the truth. In person-centred therapy (which is what the majority of therapy is), your therapist acts as a guide. Your therapist will ask you questions in an attempt to reach your deeper feelings and thoughts, and guide you to the realization of these thoughts and feelings. Your therapist does not have all of the answers. Inside you are the answers that you are looking for, your therapist just helps to shed a different light on these answers.

shutterstock_120187948So what is your role as the client in all of this? Well, put simply, your role is to put in the work that is required in order for you to move forward. This means learning to trust your therapist, having open honest conversations with them (and yourself), and doing the homework that they ask you to do. In order for your therapy to be successful, you need to be open to the experience and willing to take a good hard look at who you are. It is important to keep in mind that your life will not improve instantaneously, and neither will your mood. Often times bringing up the past can be very painful and difficult to deal with. This pain should not be discouraging. It is an important part of the entire process.

A really good question to ask yourself is, what are my goals?  Write them down and work with your therapist towards your goals without any expectations of a time frame.  Failed expectations bring disappointment.  Better to allow the therapeutic process to happen organically rather then trying to control the outcome.

Therapy is challenging, but it is a good way to help you sort yourself out. A therapist can be a good foundation of support and well-being in your life that you may not have otherwise. When discouraged by the process, remember this: it is not the path we take that matters, but the things we learn about ourselves.

Emotional Intelligence

National Bare Day is a campaign to advocate, educate, and change women into becoming more emotionally intelligent. It is an empowering campaign, looking to help women become stronger, more confident, and the leaders that they are meant to be. Emotional intelligence is something that is extremely important to maintain relationships and have inner peace.

Emotional intelligence is about more than just yourself. Emotional intelligence encompasses both the internal and the external, playing an important part in your relationships with others. While many models to explain emotional intelligence do exist, there are some that are more widely accepted than others.

Self-awareness is an important piece of emotional intelligence. Being aware of your own emotions, reactions and values allows for a greater insight into empathy and sympathy, two things that are essential to relationships with others. Becoming aware of your own emotions reinforces your mind-body-spirit connection. By strengthening this connection, you can come in touch with your deepest desires and goals. This is helpful when determining your values, giving you a center for your moral compass. With these values in place, you can become more aware of the impact that your actions have on others.

An exercise to improve self-awareness is to consider situations in the past in which you had a strong emotional response. Consider why you felt the way that you did, your reaction and the outcome in the situation. Consider the appropriateness of your response to this emotion and determine a way in which you could have reacted differently.

shutterstock_90072907Self-regulation is not something that can be easily mastered. With emotions like anger, self-regulation can be a challenge as it is a pure and passionate emotion. When anger goes unchecked, this can lead to serious problems in your relationships. Unchecked anger leads to senseless arguments when you lash out at those that are not the cause for your anger in the first place. Redirecting and controlling your disruptive emotions (i.e. anger) can lead to healthier relationships and a happier you.

An exercise to improve self-regulation is really thinking about what you are feeling, why you are feeling it, and what the next steps are going to be. Taking a deep breath before you lash out can be the difference in between a civil conversation and a violent confrontation. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What emotion am I experiencing?

  • What caused me to have this emotion (i.e. anger, sadness, ect.)?

  • How am I going to react to this feeling?

The third question is an extremely important one. This is where controlling your response to an emotion comes into play. Think carefully before you act and react to the emotion(s) that you are feeling to gain the desired outcome.

Social skills are also an important part of emotional intelligence. Knowing how to relate to people and maintain relationships can be challenging in a culture in which rely so heavily on electronic communication. However, social skills are still as important as knowing how to communicate through text messages and e-mail. Picking up on social cues and knowing what is appropriate to say in which situations is at the core of having good social skills. There are many ways to develop better social skills. A few things to consider to develop your social skills are:

  • Approachability – How approachable are you? Do you have a friendly demeanor? Do you have an easy time walking up to others and striking up a conversation?

  • Language – Do you use language that is relatable to those you are speaking to you? Are you using language that is appropriate for the situation that you are in?

  • Active Listening – Are you an active participant in the conversation? Do you find yourself dominating the conversation? Are you really taking the time to listen to and understand what the other person is saying?

shutterstock_102337144Empathy is something that many people struggle with, but it is essential to emotional intelligence. Empathy as part of emotional intelligence is being able to consider someone else’s feelings when making decisions. It is about being able to put yourself in the other’s shoes, and truly feel how they would feel if you were to make a decision. You need to consider all possibilities, and be able to accept the other’s feelings when you make a decision. This comes into play in every relationship, and when empathy is not considered, can form a rift in between both parties.

Empathy is something that comes with time. It is not easy to be understanding and put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You have to be truly open and receptive to another’s emotions in order to be truly empathetic. Empathy is something that is very important during the recovery process. You need to gain some empathy in order to understand the worry and other feelings that your family and loved ones have experienced while you were addicted. You need to be able to put yourself in their shoes, understand the significance of their feelings, and how those feelings reflect on your past behaviours.

During recovery, emotional intelligence is something that is extremely key to the process. Without an understanding of yourself and the relationships that allowed your addiction to continue, you may not get to the bottom of the root cause of your addiction. In recovery, you experience a complete transformation of your routine, your thinking, and your values. You have to choose life instead of addiction in order for the recovery to shutterstock_117884191be successful. By gaining emotional intelligence during recovery, you can set new goals, new values, and start to evaluate your relationships outside of recovery. You will gain a fuller understanding of what it means to be in a healthy relationship with others, and use your newly set values and goals to determine the validity of the relationships in your life. Emotional intelligence will allow you to start making decisions about which relationships you are going to continue to be a part of and those that you are going to move on from.

Emotional intelligence is something that is much more important than many people realise. It is an essential part of daily life and relationships. Having emotional intelligence will allow you to have a stronger mind-body-spirit connection, and a deeper connection to those that you are about. Gaining more insight into your emotions and those that surround you can allow for a better understanding of yourself and others.

Sexual Addiction

 shutterstock_127216079Addiction comes in many forms, which is why it should be no surprise that sex can also become an addiction. Sexual addiction is much more than just having sex several times frequently. It is a combination of behaviours and thoughts that interfere with normal daily functioning. Sexual addiction is still not a widely accepted concept, and was even left out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V).

However, sexual addiction is a very real problem. You feel out of control of your sexual behaviours and thoughts, often leading to frequent conquests and sexual habits that interfere with your everyday routine. You will act impulsively, and ineffectively try to reduce, control, or stop these behaviours. You will feel the need to continually sate your sexual desires, and continue to engage in sexual activity until you are satisfied.

As with other addictions, there is a lot of shame and guilt surrounding sexual addiction. It is important to keep in mind that despite your past actions, you still deserve love and to be treated with respect. And the sooner you seek help, the sooner you can begin to live a life that you love. There are several different approaches to treatment that can be effective depending on your situation.shutterstock_86165410

Sexual addiction does not have to control your life. You can take charge of your life, one small step at a time. By seeking professional help and peer support, recovery is possible. Recovery is a lifelong process, but anything is possible if you are determined and willing to put in the work. Transform your thoughts, motivate your body, and awaken your potential.

The Codependent Relationship: Mother and Child

shutterstock_135236594  The bond between mother and child is something that no other relationship can quite match. When addiction is involved in this relationship, it is seriously damaging to the healthy functioning of all relationships.

Codependency, described simply, is when both parties are dependent on one another in order for the relationship to function. Codependency is unique between a mother and child because of the nature of the relationship. Mothers are meant to be nurturing and caring individuals. But when their child is addicted to drugs, their caring and nurturing may be doing more harm than good.

Mothers of those addicted will often times go above and beyond to make sure that their child has everything that they need. Buying food, clothes, paying rent, and giving them shutterstock_70611019money. Some go as far as buying the drugs for their child. In their eyes, they are doing well by their child, making sure that they are able to keep on living. These mothers struggle to focus on themselves in any way at all. They will put their lives aside to make sure that their child will continue to come back to them for what they need.

The child will manipulate in order to get what they want. They will say hateful and hurtful things in order to break their mother down. They will be deceptive and lie in order to get more money. The child is trying to stay sick, and they know that their mother will do anything to keep them happy and alive.

shutterstock_9303223This relationship is extremely toxic and allows for the addiction to continue. So what are some way to recover from codependency?

  • Attend family recovery programs with the addicted

  • Learn to put your interests and needs before others

  • Become aware of the signs of codependent behaviour

  • Develop strong boundaries

With these strategies and professional help, codependency is something that you and your family can recover from.

Experimenting During the Teen Years: Substance Abuse in Youth

shutterstock_107588312Adolescence is a time in a child’s life in which many changes are occurring. It can be an extremely confusing and trying time for them, as well as their parents. As their parents, it is important that you educate your children about drugs, alcohol, sex, and what it means to be “peer pressured”. Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your child is essential in order to be in the loop of what is going on in their lives.

Your child may decide to experiment with any combination of the above listed, however, there comes a time when drug/alcohol use shifts to drug/alcohol abuse. How honest they are, if they come home intoxicated regularly, if they spend a lot of spare time at parties, and the friends that they choose to surround themselves bullyingwith are all great indicators of substance abuse.

Lying or hiding things may be an indication that your child is using or abusing substances. This is not true in all cases. It is normal for them to want their space and private life. However, when they are lying about large things (where they are, where they are going, what they are doing) it can be cause for concern. If you and your child have a healthy and functioning relationship in which they are comfortable communicating with you, they shouldn’t feel the need to hide from you. It is important to approach them from a loving and caring place, avoiding accusatory statements. Give them the opportunity to open up to you.

If your child is coming home intoxicated on a regular basis, it could be an indication that they are abusing substances. Using substances may be a way for your child to escape the emotional turmoil they are experiencing. However, using substances as a coping strategy is not healthy. This is another reason it is very important that you keep an open line of communication with your child.shutterstock_70611019

Older adolescents are fairly likely to attend parties. It is naïve to not think that at some (if not all) of these parties alcohol will be served and drugs will be offered, especially if there is not appropriate supervision. Your child may opt to spend more time than not a parties. It is important that you educate your child about the dangers of participating in underage drinking as well as drug use of any kind.

The friends that your child chooses to spend their time with is a good indicator as to whether or not they will be pressured to try alcohol and/or drugs. Now it is impossible to judge a book by its cover, however, it is important to know the other children your child associates with. Knowing who they are and what they are like will give you a good indication of the likelihood that they consume alcohol/use drugs. Again, it is extremely important to educate your child about peer pressure and the dangers of consuming alcohol/drugs.

It is impossible to completely protect your child from being exposed to alcohol and/or drugs. With the normalization of alcohol and/or drug use during adolescence, it is becoming harder and harder for parents to make their children understand the risks and repercussions that their activities can have on their lives as well as the lives of others. The best thing that you can do is give them the facts, and encourage them to make good choices.

Transform-Motivate-Awaken: What is Recovery and How Do I Know That I Am Ready?

There are many different definitions for recovery. In a general sense, recovery is a lifelong process in which you abstain from using/abusing your drug of choice. Lapses/relapses are also considered part of this process. They are a chance for growth and making a plan with which you can succeed.shutterstock_107588312

When suffering from an addiction, it is hard to see yourself that you have a problem. Often times the consequences will not stop you from feeding your addiction. So how do you know that you are ready to start the recovery process?

Everyone is different. Maybe your family has given you an intervention. Maybe you have some serious health consequences because of your addiction. Or maybe you are just sick and tired of chasing your fix. Whatever the reason is, you need to want to make the change for yourself. No one else can force you into recovery. You need to be mentally and emotionally prepared to work hard and stay clean.

A good indicator of readiness for recovery is a commitment to change. If you want to change and are sincerely willing to do whatever it will take to get there, you may be ready for recovery. Another good indicator is a reduction in use. Maybe you are skipping out on getting high and trying to keep yourself preoccupied. Maybe you are just choosing to abstain from use, despite withdrawal symptoms. If this is the case, you may be ready for recovery.

Now maybe you are just thinking about changing. You want to reach out for help but you aren’t sure if sober living is for you just yet. The best thing that you can do is explore your options and keep your mind open. Seeking support not only within your family and friends, but from trained professionals and agencies is a great idea to explore your options.

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Recovery is ultimately your decision. It is something that you have to be prepared and committed to. You have to want to recover for yourself, not just because you feel that other people want you to. Recovery is not easy, and it takes a lot of hard work and self-discovery to have a successful recovery. Transform, Motivate, and Awaken. Live the life that you want, addiction free.

Emotions and Addiction

When dealing with addiction and recovery, the emotions that come along with it are an important thing to look at. By becoming aware of the emotions that are part of your addiction, you can become more self-aware and more able to participate in your recovery.

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There are many emotions that can be a part of your addiction. It may be anger, sadness, or anxiety. How these emotions play into your addiction is a key piece of coming to terms with your addiction. Now these emotions play a big part in your bio-psycho-social and spiritual functioning.

So what does bio-psycho-social and spiritual mean when dealing with addciction? Bio-psycho-social and spiritual refers to the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors that affect your ability to function within your addiction.

The biological aspect may include:

  • Genetics
  • Brain chemistry
  • Brain behaviour and functioning

The psychological aspect may include:

  • Social learning
  • Motivations
  • Behaviours
  • Emotions
  • Personality development

The social aspect may include:

  • Availability of your substance
  • Economic status
  • Addiction in a family member or close friend
  • Culture
  • Community

The spiritual aspect may include:

  • Beliefs
  • Morals
  • Connectedness

This isn’t to say that all of these factors are present or the same in every person that is addicted. How each of these factors affects you may differ greatly from the next person. However, it is important to recognize the factors that have influenced your addiction in order for you to better understand the steps that you need to take in order to live a life that is addiction free.

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Recovery is a life-long process. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to make it possible for yourself. By becoming more self-aware and connected to who you are, the more effective you will become in leading the life that you want for yourself.